One of the volumes in my Time Life library of photography is called The Great Themes. These photography themes include The Human Condition (life as the camera sees it) War, Nature, Portraits, The Nude, and finally Still Life.
I have captured a lot of nature shots. I have taken pictures of many humans including ones in love, sad, happy and just arrived in the world.
I have not dedicated much time or effort to becoming a better formal portrait photographer. It is on my list to improve that skill.
The Nude or figure study as it is sometimes called, has been a subject for art for as long as the human form has existed I bet. However it creates such a mix of attitudes and taboos that I have confined my eye behind the lens to pictures of my children when they were very, very young. You know the kind of image I am talking about, the standard bathtub shot that mortifies your now adult son or daughter when the image pops up in the middle of a family slide show to a chorus of DAD!....I can't believe you are showing that! I come back with a response of Look how cute she was. I will not be posting any of those shots here, not if I want any of my kids to keep speaking to me.
I think some of these themes will make for new and interesting blogs fodder.
Lets talk about shooting things when they are still.
This is a very challenging form of photography. I find the thought process that goes into picturing things to be at times difficult but at times satisfying when the final product looks good, to me anyway. A still life takes time to design before the shot is taken. There is the object or objects to consider, the lighting, the angle, and the story that you want to convey. You might create the design or be someplace and find it already there in front of you.
There are no hard and fast rules when creating a still life, except for the obvious one, the subject must be still! The image can be of objects you arranged, such as the common bowl of fruit. The subject can be a form, a shadow, in other words, it can be an abstract image.
The pictures don't always have to be good, all of mine certainly are not, but that is not the most important thing. The important thing is to try.
Shooting still life pictures is a great exercise that uses a lot of what I have tried to pass on to you.
I do have a suggestion. A tripod is a very helpful piece of equipment to own when making a still life image. Long exposures are common when shooting still life images, especially when using available light. I used a tripod when taking one of the following pictures, can you guess which one that is?
Let us look at a few images, some of which are in my Random Subjects gallery.
The picture above of the Chrysler Museum (a wing no longer there) won third place in the open category of the first photo contest I entered many years ago. The contest was sponsored by the Portsmouth Parks and Recreation Dept in partnership with local camera retailers.
This picture won third place in the still life category. I was told by one of the judges it would have won first place and been up for best in show if not for one thing the panel of judges did not like. That one thing is not in this picture because I edited it. I will show you the original image at some point.
I shot the next picture at a large flea market. I walked around for hours fighting with a malfunctioning camera but managed to take one picture that I rather liked.
This dining room was just as I found it. The light was from one window, as is the next picture shot in the kitchen just off the dining room. It was a very small area. The picture was shot with a 24mm lens mounted on my 35mm film camera. My question for you is: What focal length would I use if I shot this picture with my APS-C camera and kept the same angle of view?
I gave a lot of thought to the next picture...I shot it on a light table with my camera positioned directly above the image, It never came out exactly the way I visioned it. I think it would have been better if the background was not textured. What do you think? Oh, the answer for the question I asked above is 16mm.
Just a simple image that conveys a message about time. I shot it using available light and hand held the camera
The next image is very simple, just apples, but for some reason people like it. I originally captured it vertically, but most sites turn it horizontally. I found I prefer it that way as well.
Last is the original image of my Third Place still life. It is really neat what one can do with a good photo editing software program.
By the way, I used a tripod when shooting the "bowl of fruit."